Virtually no writer has so influenced American thought as Ralph Waldo Emerson--called the heart and soul of Transcendentalism. Here renowned Emerson scholar Joel Myerson distills the essential core of this great thinker's vast letter-writing endeavors into one volume, presenting a collection of 350 pieces of correspondence written between 1813 and ...
Virtually no writer has so influenced American thought as Ralph Waldo Emerson--called the heart and soul of Transcendentalism. Here renowned Emerson scholar Joel Myerson distills the essential core of this great thinker's vast letter-writing endeavors into one volume, presenting a collection of 350 pieces of correspondence written between 1813 and 1880. Emerson is revealed as thoroughly engaged with the vital issues of his day.
Publishers Weekly, 1998-01-05 Emerson, who followed Montaigne in never overvaluing reading, is now interred under 38 volumes of lectures, letters, journals and notebooks. For those daunted by the Ralph L. Rusk edition of 4500 letters (also published by Columbia), Myerson has done a great service by compiling 350 of Emerson's most essential, which together form the outline of an illuminating intellectual biography. The most devoted reader of Emerson's essays can become exasperated by the gulf that separates the thrill of his rhetoric from the mundane necessity of everyday life; and the letters don't exactly bridge the gap. Even when most intimate, Emerson's letters reflect the distance of the Sage. Nonetheless, Emerson's life was touched repeatedly by terrible lossæthe death of his first wife, the increasing mental debilitation of his brother Edward, the sudden death of his beloved son Waldoæand at every turn, that characteristic tone of hortatory anticipation deepens to comprehend it, ultimately reaffirming Emerson's abiding belief in the universe's unyielding principle of "Compensation." Emerson was a grumpy, reluctant traveler and generally preferred solitude, so his letters serve as a record of condition, rather than of incident. Nonetheless, they can be enthralling. The Byronisms of the undergraduate give way to the preachy and orotund Emerson of his twenties, until finally, in his early thirties, the Emerson we know appears: "Purge off life's accidents," he writes a former student, advising him to obey "the aboriginal truthæThe Fall of man is the disesteem of man." This is an indispensable resource for the student of Emerson. (Feb.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
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